The glamour of La Mamounia is legendary. Set amid a breathtaking backdrop, with the Atlas Mountains lifting into a majestic haze, this pastel-pink turreted dream of a hotel certainly rises to its setting. With its telepathic service, intricate Old World style and elegant crowd, La Mamounia is the jewel in Marrakech’s crown when it comes to a resplendent, no-expenses-spared stay.
If you’re looking for opulence steeped in history, fantastical decor that spins you into a different dimension, this is where to drop your bags – all Princely grandeur and glory that represents a lavish upgrade on Old World Moroccan style.
Set the scene:
La Mamounia has, and always will be, an enchanting place to roll from poolside to dinner, with ample people watching opportunities in between. The grand dame of Marrakech continues to attract a fabulous international crowd – Winston Churchill once even described it as ‘the most lovely spot in the whole world’. Every corner here is impossibly photogenic – a mirage-like scene of green olive trees illuminated in the sunlight, dusty-pink terracotta brickwork and wafting linen curtains. An abundance of columns, foliage-filled courtyards, lush textiles, exotic tile-work, sparkling fountains and intricate wood work paints a dreamlike labyrinth – one you’ll want to explore every inch of.
Whether you find yourself in one of the five bars, four restaurants, the huge underground spa, the hairdressers, the mini (exceptionally well-curated) shopping mall or beside the pools (indoor and outdoor), your every wish is attended to solicitously. The staff are smooth, sharp and they make things happen, so whichever spot you find yourself in, you quite quickly sink into this calm retreat without a worry in the world.
Beyond its walls is the humming Medina, where you’ll find a maze of market streets with souks selling everything from spices and fresh produce to thick woven carpets and hand-painted ceramics – all of which you’ll want to ship home.
Enter any of the 135 rooms, 71 suites, and three riads and you’ll find yourself in a sumptuously dressed Moroccan oasis of ornate tile work, intricate stucco and carved woodwork. The geometric forms, exotic floral styles and bright Fauvist colours of the Deco period work in step with the Moorish influences, which extend from the bathroom doorways to the terrace, painted soft greens and pinks in contrast to the darker woods and fabrics. Exposed wood-beam ceilings adds character to many of the rooms – but it’s the elaborate tiling and rich Moroccan drapes that really steal the show.
Food and drink:
Days begin with a buffet breakfast served in the light-filled Pool Pavilion. A vast spread of house-baked breads and pastries, dried and fresh fruits, nuts and cereal, charcuterie and Moroccan-to-international hot dishes spread out along chicly laid tables right along the water’s edge. No workout gear here, everyone is dressed impeccably. Lunch is pure brasserie joy at Le Francais, with its mix of French brasserie classics and contemporary Italian cuisine. Of the four on-site restaurants, Le Marocain is the hotel’s showpiece, serving high-octane modern Moroccan cuisine every evening with the local specialities you would hope for such as slow-cooked lamb and the much-talked-about pigeon pie.
La Mamounia’s story starts with King Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah (Sultan of Morocco from 1757 – 1790) who gave it to his son, Prince Mamoun, as a wedding gift. Officially, La Mamounia first opened its doors in 1923 and over the years, the exotic allure of Marrakech and its jewel-in-the-crown, La Mamounia, has welcomed a dazzling set from around the world: from Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt to Hitchcock, Jennifer Aniston, and Elton John all of whom have admired the beauty of this Art Deco-meets-Imperial-Morocco hotel.
It’s easy to see why this is where the celebrities stay when they come to Marrakech. Nestled amid eight acres of historic gardens dotted with hundreds of olive trees (some of which are more than 700 years’ old) with cascading bougainvillaea, cacti, delphiniums and lemon trees is where Prince Mamoun would hold “nzahas” – magnificent garden parties that today the grand and glitzy play homage to.
The hotel, in a prime site in the south-west corner of the Medina where you’ll discover the city’s glamorous bohemian history, but inside remains a legendary palace, which is probably the finest hotel in north Africa (and certainly the most famous) that is part of the fabric of Marrakesh.
Morocco is only three hours away from London, but for little ones it will feel like a different universe. At La Mamounia, the swimming pool takes centre-stage, lined with day beds and a few shady cabanas which are ideal for nap times and keeping children cool. A shallow pool gives young children enough space for paddling, splashing and squawking without entirely ruining everyone else’s holiday. The huge gardens are somewhere for the children to roam and enjoy adventuring under their own steam. For sun-seeking honeymooners with little ones in toe, and only a few days to spare, this is a ludicrously easy (and endlessly rewarding) fly-and-flop option.
The Zellige-tiled, Majorelle blue-splashed spa is a cavernous space offering each and every treatment you could wish for. We highly recommend the his and hers hammams, (as well as a private one for couples to book exclusively). Though a slow-paced afternoon oscillating between the saunas and Moorish-inspired massages are a great antidote to the Medina’s high-energy.
La Mamounia has committed to Green Key environmental practices, starting by using solar power and plucking organic produce fresh from its very own vegetable garden.
Few hotels are as synonymous with their destination as La Mamounia is with Marrakech. The hotel sits in a prime spot in the Hivernage neighbourhood, just outside the Medina walls and almost opposite the famous Koutoubia minaret. Taxis wait beside the seductively lit entrance to whisk you to town in 10 minutes.
To book your honeymoon, go to: www.mamounia.com